It has become impossible for health officials to ignore the rising STD rates that are plaguing this small bedroom community. For the last twenty years the number of sexually transmitted infections has largely been ignored, but the recent statistics released by the CDC and county health department have no longer made this possible.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates are increasing at an alarming rate in teens and young adults, especially among African Americans. Syphilis and HIV incidents are also increasing in frequency in older men, and even the Herpes virus is showing up more often in local high schools.
What is surprising to some local leaders is the fact that little attention has been paid to these statistics which is putting everyone’s health in the community at risk.
The statistics also show that over 50 percent of residents have never been tested for any of the common sexually transmitted infections, and an even higher number do not even realize that there is a problem. If residents do not feel like their health is at risk the majority of them do not see any reason to spend time at a STI clinic.
Some of the statistics that are now getting local officials attention and stress the need for regular STI testing include,
- Fulton County ranks 6th in the nation for its high Syphilis rate coming in slightly below Los Angeles County, according to 2015 statistics.
- In 2015 there were 379 cases of primary and secondary Syphilis reported in the suburb and county.
- 60 percent of the nation’s HIV rate in 2015 was reported in the community and surrounding Atlanta metro area.
Even as the number of STDs reported each year keeps rising officials still do not see the benefits of implementing sex education programs in the classroom.
The public school district still relies on abstinence based programs that do not include the information students need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. While these classes do include medically accurate information concerning the risks and dangers associated with HIV/AIDS, students are also taught that abstinence is the best way to protect themselves from STDs and unplanned pregnancies.
While it is true that abstaining from sex is the most effective way to prevent getting pregnant, it does not provide adequate protection from any of the STDs. Most students leave high school without being taught that these viruses can be passed without engaging in sexual activity, and the majority of teens do not understand how important regular testing is.
The use of contraceptives is also not discussed, and many students graduate believing that a STD could never happen to them. What many of them do not realize is that since not all sexually transmitted infections display immediate signs and symptoms they could already be positive for a STD and not even realize it.
This is only one of the reasons why regular HIV testing in Sandy Springs is so important, and it is also the only way to detect the potentially deadly virus. Regular Herpes testing in Sandy Springs is also important, and it could help to finally lower the rate of infection in area high schools.
Since this bedroom community is part of the greater Atlanta metro area it shares many of the same demographical factors as the larger city. Ethnicities and income vary, along with religious and political beliefs. This can make it difficult for health officials to ensure everyone understands the risk STDs can pose.
Recent economic problems in the city has forced budget cuts to some public clinics, and now that STD testing is no longer covered under Medicare many residents can’t find an open clinic or afford the cost of testing. Even free health care programs are suffering from a lack of funding and are being forced to turn away residents who are in desperate need of testing and treatment for STDs.
One of the biggest factors contributing to the rocketing STD rates is a lack of education. Many community leaders still believe that simply telling teens that abstinence is best will be enough to discourage them from becoming sexually active, and even if they do refrain from intercourse teens and adults are still at risk for contracting any of the common STIs.
Students frequently graduate without understanding how important it is to be tested on a regular basis or that they could already have a sexually transmitted disease and not even know it. Misconceptions on how STDs are spread are common, even in older adults and all of this is adding to the community’s growing problems with sexually transmitted infections.
Before heading into the city for shopping or over to the track to catch a NASCAR race it is important to take a few minutes and consider your sexual health. The number of STDs in the area are increasing which means it is more important than ever to be tested. If you don’t want to spend the entire day at the clinic but still want to take care of your sexual health, you can easily schedule confidential STD testing with one phone call and only spend a few minutes of your time at a nearby lab.